08/29/2013

Art for the Masses

The Naples Toledo Station is just one of 13 amazing transformations that have taken place in the subway system as the city aims to turn its stations into museums of art.

By AnnMarie Martin
Photography by Andrea Resmini

 
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    View larger

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    Designer Oscar Tusquets Blanca chose a water and light theme to bring the underground station to life. “Louis Khan assured that there is no suitable architectural space without the presence of natural light,” he says. View larger

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    The Naples Toledo subway station is one of 13 in the city’s Art Stations program. The initiative allows all citizens and travelers to experience contemporary art at its finest by transforming each stop into an underground museum. View larger

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    The mural at the top of the escalators is titled “Remediation of the slums of Naples in relation to the railway station, 1884 (Naples Procession).” View larger

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    The blue Bisazza mosaic tiles used in the station become more intense as one ventures deeper underground. View larger

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    With such breathtaking interiors, it’s a wonder anyone makes their train at the Toledo subway station. View larger

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    Light from the Quartieri Spagnoli plaza above filters into the station below via the Crater de Luz—a massive opening that features both natural sunlight and an LED lightshow, courtesy of Robert Wilson. View larger

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    Light from the Quartieri Spagnoli plaza above filters into the station below via the Crater de Luz—a massive opening that features both natural sunlight and an LED lightshow, courtesy of Robert Wilson. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0913/I_0913_Web_PE_Metro_10.jpg

    Light from the Quartieri Spagnoli plaza above filters into the station below via the Crater de Luz—a massive opening that features both natural sunlight and an LED lightshow, courtesy of Robert Wilson. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0913/I_0913_Web_PE_Metro_11.jpg

    Light from the Quartieri Spagnoli plaza above filters into the station below via the Crater de Luz—a massive opening that features both natural sunlight and an LED lightshow, courtesy of Robert Wilson. View larger

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    The station’s first levels focus on black tones, and feature a mural entitled “Central Railroad for the city of Naples, 1906 (Naples Procession),” which depicts a cavalcade of figures inspired by the history of the city. View larger

One typically wouldn’t lump subways and art galleries into the same category, but the city of Naples, Italy has set out to change that with its Art Stations program. It has since transformed the city’s underground into a subterranean museum that gives all travelers the opportunity to experience the work of some of the most cutting-edge artists working today.

More than 180 artworks from 90 contemporary artisans are spread throughout 13 subway stations across the city. Curated by Achille Bonito Oliva—the famed Italian art critic who also directed the 45th Venice Biennale—the program also enlists renowned architects to build these transportation hubs.

One of the gems of the collection is the Toledo station, designed by Barcelona-based architect and all-around artist Oscar Tusquets Blanca. According to his web site, Blanca is “an architect by profession, designer by adaptation, painter by vocation and writer out of the need to make friends.” And he’s no stranger to such collaborations as this project required. “To collaborate with artists, which makes other architects uncomfortable, is something I love,” he explains “I’ve done it with painters, sculptors, stained-glass artists, ceramists and landscape architects in many of my works.”

As someone who knows the importance of appropriate and meaningful art curation within a space, Blanca understood that the interiors of the Toledo station needed to keep up with the presentation without overpowering it. He eventually settled upon a theme of water and light. “Louis Khan assured that there is no suitable architectural space without the presence of natural light,” Blanca says.

He brings it in via powerful, impactful skylights and an immense crater (the Crater de Luz), which carries light from the Quartieri Spagnoli plaza above to the Bisazza glass tile-encrusted grotto below. These spectacular blue mosaics get more intense the deeper you go into the station. The sunlight from the crater is enhanced by the subtle interplay of LEDs, thanks to software programmed by Robert Wilson of Relative Light.

Contact Information


Oscar Tusquets Blanca

Abadessa Olzet, 7
08034 Barcelona
Spain
info@tusquets.com

tusquets.com
By comparison, the first level focuses on mainly black tones as a reference to the asphalt above; they also serve as a backdrop to striking mosaics by William Kentridge. The first, entitled “Central Railroad for the city of Naples, 1906 (Naples Procession),” features a cavalcade of figures inspired by the history of the city. The second is located above the escalators and is titled “Remediation of the slums of Naples in relation to the railway station, 1884 (Naples Procession).”

A series of pictures by Achille Cevoli entitled “Men at Work” can also be found on the walls near the fixed staircase. It is dedicated to those who completed the excavation of the tunnels and construction of the stations.

These presentations are just to name a few found throughout these powerful interiors. With such engaging surroundings, it’s a wonder that anyone gets anywhere in Naples.

 

 
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